Monday, July 29, 2013

Mathematical Perspectives

One of the neat things about maths that makes it so exciting is the way you can look at the same thing from a different perspective. You can see 4 as 2+2. But, and this is what is so neat, you can see 4 from an infinite number of different perspectives. You can see it as 3 + 1 or 19 - 15 or as the square root of 16 or as the square of 2. You can see it as 4,326, 296 - 4,326,292 or as a square of 2 inch sides. It's also a Lucas number and a quartet such as the Beatles. It's a golf foursome or two couples out for dinner. Tetra and quad also mean 4 as do quatre and vier. Here's even more stuff about 4 .You can see it as 11 in base three or as 100 in base four. Isn't that neat!

I see math everywhere because I think that way. I get excited when I see an array of numbers that are similar or are sequenced. I like it when patterns appear out of nowhere like the 7272727 in my last post. Perhaps I have a well formed logical-mathemical intelligence ala  Howard Gardener's multiple intelligence theory . I am by no means a mathematician and I would struggle to complete some upper level  H.S. math classes but I see the fundamental constructs of mathematics with great clarity and in great depth.

I believe that these basic constructs such as the idea of part-part-whole are what we should be teaching young children so that they can see the world through a mathematical lens. For far too long we have clung to what the Victorians identified as "basic math" defined by the 4 operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These are no more basic to mathematics than declarative sentences and conjunctive verbs are basic to learning to read.  

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